Sunday, March 31, 2013

Are Traditionalists Becoming the Pharisees of Our Time?

I unabashedly and without apology love traditional Catholicism. I love Gregorian chant, all the old devotions, reading the fathers and saints, and I especially love the Traditional Latin Mass. I feel that the Traditional Latin Mass is as close to experiencing heaven as we can get on this earth. The beauty and solemnity - even of a low Mass where the priest prays silently at the altar and there is no singing - is an overwhelming experience, maybe because of the silence. It is not hard to imagine the altar being surrounded by the angels and saints and our Blessed Mother. Every Mass - if properly attended - can be a truly life changing experience. If I have a chance of choosing between the Ordinary Form of the Mass next door to me or traveling 25 miles to the Latin Mass, I'm on the road without question.

Lately, though, especially since the election of Pope Francis, I have not been feeling too good about my fellow "traddies." I have already written a couple of posts about this, and it's not getting any better, as can be seen on traditional Catholic blogs. It isn't so much the bloggers themselves, although some of them are kind of scary, but more what you find in their comboxes.

Father Z has made some attempts to reign in negative comments about Pope Francis on his blog, but he still lets a lot of them go. On the other hand, he has also posted things which, while certainly not attacking the Holy Father in any way, leave room for his readers to do so. An example of this was a post that was a textbook example of a left handed compliment to Pope Francis, which you can read here. He opined that the the Pope's flaunting of the liturgical laws in regard to foot washing at the Holy Thursday service will actually drive people to the Latin Mass where the rubrics cannot be tampered with, and therefore Pope Francis has done more in two weeks to push the cause of Summorum Pontificum than Pope Benedict XVI did in his entire papacy. Here are just a few of the comments.

In this first comment. Father Z shows his disapproval (in red), but yet still lets the comment stand.
allan500 says:30 March 2013 at 9:55 pm
Fr. Z, I think the most important thing you observed is that “War-weary Catholics are back in the trenches.” We have no choice but to fight. It appears that Pope Francis is looking for a fight. Why? Could it be that he is not the humble man of peace he pretends to be, but a cunning fake? He knows exactly what he is doing when he ignores rubrics. He knows what he is doing when he greets every motley group of heretic and heathen but refuses to acknowledge the SSPX. Surely then are no further from the heart of the church than Muslims. He seems to be the classic bully doing what he wants–in disregard of people’s feelings and lawful aspirations– just because he can. Humble men don’t act like that.
[I won't write here what I think of suggestions like this in my combox.] 
Why doesn't Father Z let us know what he thinks of this comment?  I think he has a responsibility to either delete it or answer it.  To respond with something as vague as this is to invite others to agree with the comment.

Here's another one (typos were in the original), with no comeback from Father Z:
Potato2 says:30 March 2013 at 4:42 pm 
Nice try Fr. Z
I’m not buying it.
Just like I don’t buy it when political conservatives thank obama for amking them stronger. He doesn’t make them stronger. He pushes his agenda. same here.
You know it don’t you? 
There is, of course, the usual denigration of Vatican II, which Father Z seldom challenges:
Parasum says:
30 March 2013 at 9:05 pm 
“In two weeks Pope Francis has done more to promote Summorum Pontificum than Pope Benedict did since the day he promulgated it.”
## So true. His scandalous behaviour is a powerful indication of the new rite’s capacity for being abused. It is a room in a half-way house between the True Faith in its beauty, and the abominations of heresy. Despite himself, he proves by his abuses that Vatican II was built on shifting sand, and cannot last. For that at least he can be thanked.
And one more really scary comment, again with no rebuttal from Father Z:
Nan says:30 March 2013 at 4:32 pm
Magpie, I’m still weeping because the church has lost its foundation. For me, the temple veil is now torn and the church doesn’t lead to salvation. 
When Father Z lets comments like this stand with no rebuttal, he is giving tacit approval to them whether that is what he intends or not.  He is a priest with priestly authority, not just some non-entity like me blogging our own opinions.   He has a responsibility to either answer such heretical statements or delete them from his blog.

The most disturbing aspect of these comments is that they are coming from people who consider themselves good loyal Catholics and who supposedly put Christ and His church at the center of their existence. Yet they talk with tones of despair and defeatism. We are in the midst of Easter, the most positive liturgical season of the year as we celebrate Christ's victory over death and sin, and these "traditional Catholics" talk as if the Church was on the verge of self destruction. Did our Lord die for nothing? Did His promises that "the gates of hell will never prevail" against the Church and that He will be with us always mean nothing? It would seem so according to many of those who comment on Father Z's blog.

The very worst of the Traditional Catholic blogs, in my opinion, has been Rorate-caeli. This is a highly respected blog among Catholic traditionalists which has contributions from a number of people. In fact, Father Z links to this blog as one that he follows. Rorate posted one article about Pope Francis and the washing of feet on Holy Thursday, which as we all know, included women and non-Catholics. You can read the posting here. While they lament the actions of Pope Francis, they don't specifically condemn His Holiness. However, many of those who left comments see this act as the end of the world and do not hesitate to criticize the Pope and even question how truly Catholic he is.

The first comment is made by a reader who is rejoicing at what he sees as the destruction of the "conciliar" church and what he further sees as the Pope's role in that destruction. Also note that this person refers to His Holiness as "Bergoglio", a sign of ultra disrespect for the Vicar of Christ:
Francis in Ma said...
Yes, this modernist garbage (in this case washing the feet of women) has been going on in the Novus Ordo churches for a while now. While that of course is bad it is truly scandalous for the bishop of Rome to publicly wash the feet of pagans and women; inside a prison no less while trying to promote "humility"!! The leftwing and secular "media" is eating this garbage up. Bergoglio is taking the conciliar church deeper into the abyss of worldly relativism, modernism, humanism, syncretism and indifferentism. Which can only help to move along the conciliar church's demise. Yes, it will take a while, but looking at it positively Bergoglio may be helping the church that Vatican II built into oblivion.
28 March, 2013 20:36
Here is a post comparing the divinely appointed Vicar of Christ to those who crucified Christ on Calvary. Interestingly, the birth of the Church occurred when Christ was pierced with the spear after his death. The writer here does not appear to be aware of that fact:
M said...
Wonder why he didn't wait until tomorrow to stick a spear into the side of the Bride of Christ?
Good grief! Don't tell me he has something worse in mind for Good Friday!

28 March, 2013 20:39
Here is just one of many posts basically accusing Pope Francis of self will and false humility:
Petrus Radii said...
In mediaeval times, the Pope originally did in fact wash the feet of twelve paupers (all male, of course). If memory serves, local bishops who practised the custom would either wash the feet of paupers or of their clergy. The original monastic custom was for the abbot to wash the feet of *all* the community.
However, the present Pope's behaviour is nothing so much as archaeologism tainted with feminism, and one might wish to argue that his proclaimed "humility" is more likely self-will. Libera nos, Deus!

28 March, 2013 20:40
Here is a comment implying that Pope Francis is basically destroying the Papacy:
lee said...
A pope once suppressed the Jesuits (clement xiv);
so naturally a jesuit appears to be suppressing the papacy.

28 March, 2013 21:21
Here is one comment fundamentally accusing the Pope of being a heretic and praising the Society of St. Pius X, which is in schism right now:
Jan said...
As far as I am concerned, this was outright disobedience by Francis of Church law, even though it was done at a Novus Ordo Mass. Francis has set the tone for disobedience and, in doing so, has undermined his own authority.
As regards the SSPX, the only safety for anyone's soul is within the Church. As it is, they can do nothing to help the Church because they have no standing in canon law. I too believe they should have accepted Pope Benedict's offer. I don't believe the Church would have sunk down as far if they had not left in the first place. When that happened there were few left to battle against the modernism that has led to the election of Francis who appears by his own actions to be rejecting the papacy himself. Once he was just a disobedient Cardinal, now he sets the example for all to be disobedient to him.

28 March, 2013 21:26
Here is one comment actually urging Catholics to leave the Church and join the SSPX:
Dominic said...
At this point, anyone not already attending an SSPX chapel should seriously consider joining. It's only going to go downhill from here. The second great western schism is about to happen soon.
28 March, 2013 21:48
Following is one comment calling our Holy Father diabolical and a "monster" and using Scripture to back up his point:
The Viking said...
2 Thessalonians 2:14
Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.
If it is true that Il Papa Francesco washed the feet of 2 non-believing women, then his disdain for the Traditions of the Church have reached the level of diabolical. So much for Peter honoring the actions of Our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles on this the day which commemorates the institution of the Priesthood and the Mass. 
Lex orandi, lex credendi--the law of prayer is the law of belief. So a man acts liturgically, so he believes in his head. Dear God have mercy on the earth because Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a monster making a mockery of the Petrine Office to the glee of the entire world and most importantly, to the enemies of God's church.
28 March, 2013 23:02
One last comment from someone who has no idea what to do and is also thinking of jumping ship to the SSPX:
Unknown said...
I am so confused. I want to believe that the Church is going to be restored & survive. I thought Pope Benedict was re-constructing & that the elderly Pope Francis had some means of bringing us back to tradition. He's pro-life at least. why am I so grateful for a few crumbs of goodness from him? Pretty sure going back to the SSPX & giving up on the Mainstream church is the only option. Very sad and afraid. How are we supposed to know what to do??????
28 March, 2013 23:38
How are we suppose to know what to do? How about listening to the words of our founder, Jesus Christ?

All of these comments I have posted above sound to me like they would come right out of the mouths of the Pharisees in the time of Christ. The Pharisees were constantly attacking Jesus because he did not conform to the traditions which they held so dearly:
  1. Christ "broke" the Sabbath by healing
  2. Christ "broke" by the Sabbath by allowing his apostles to pick and eat corn on that day
  3. Christ and his apostles did not ceremonially wash their hands before eating as commanded by Moses
  4. Christ associated with known sinners, including prostitutes and tax collectors
  5. The Pharisees accused Jesus of healing and driving out demons out by demonic power.
Our Lord scandalized the average man and woman when He made the statement that we must eat His Body and drink His Blood. No one understood the meaning of this because no one had any concept of the Eucharist, which had not been introduced yet. As far as everyone who heard this was concerned, Jesus was suggesting cannibalism.

From John 6:
53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
The mindset of many of the current Catholic Traditionalists criticizing Pope Francis seems to be exactly the same as the Pharisees at the time of Christ. While so many accuse Pope Francis of false humility, they show no humility at all. They know exactly what the Church needs and what is right and wrong, and no one - certainly not any upstart Pope - is going to tell them differently. Their statements all show tremendous pride and self righteousness.

They who claim to be so knowledgeable about the teachings of the Church seem to have completely forgotten that the Pope is the divinely chosen Vicar of Christ. He is the direct successor to St. Peter and has been given the keys to the Kingdom. What he has loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven and what he binds on earth shall be bound in heaven. This statement applies to the Pope and only the Pope. Our Lord has in effect told us that we have no right to judge any actions of the Pope in his capacity as Pope. The only one allowed to stand in judgment of the Holy Father is Jesus Christ.

Yes, it did go against the rubrics to wash the feet of women and non-Catholics at the Holy Thursday service. I have trouble understanding it. But I'm not the Pope! And this is hardly a heretical act. If he had given communion to non-Catholics, then we would definitely have a problem. But washing their feet? Oh, I know the arguments, just as we read in the comments. Because the pope "disobeyed", now no one needs to obey.

The Pope is not just any man. One would think Traditional Catholics above all would be aware of this fact. He is not bound as we are by such laws as whose feet to wash. He is the one who gets to do the "loosening and binding," remember? The Church is not a democracy, we don't get to decide if he is right or wrong.

I am not one of those liberals who hate traditionalists. I'm one of you! But first and foremost, I am Catholic, and as such, I am a papist. Pope Francis is my Pope, no matter what my personal feelings are. As I have written previously on this blog, I have a firm promise from my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that His Vicar will never mislead me. I don't have to understand everything he does and says, just as the Apostles did not understand everything Christ said and did. In fact, before his death, the apostles understood next to nothing of what Christ said and did. But as Peter said to Christ (John 6:68):

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

As I mentioned at the top of this post, I love the Traditional Latin Mass. You need only to look around at my blog to realize that. I believe like many Traditionalists do that the Mass is the salvation of the world. But if we start using the Sacrifice of the Mass to judge the Holy Father, then we have, as impossible as it may seem, made an idol of the Mass. Many Traditionalists are afraid of losing the Mass, and are actually willing to attack the Vicar of Christ over it.

St. Teresa of Avila gave us a beautiful example of obedience. She had been having visions of Christ, and when she told her confessor, he told her it was a demon and she should reject the visions:
For three years, while Father Balthasar was her director, she suffered from the disapproval of those around her; and for two years, from extreme desolation of soul. She was censured for her austerities and ridiculed as a victim of delusion or a hypocrite. A confessor to whom she went during Father Balthasar's absence said that her very prayer was an illusion, and commanded her, when she saw any vision, to make the sign of the cross and repel it as if it were an evil spirit. But Teresa tells us that the visions now brought with them their own evidence of authenticity, so that it was impossible to doubt they were from God. Nevertheless, she obeyed this order of her confessor. Pope Gregory XV, in his bull of canonization, commends her obedience in these words: "She was wont to say that she might be deceived in discerning visions and revelations, but could not be in obeying superiors."
St. Teresa of Avila actually rejected Christ out of obedience to her superiors and was commended for it.  We, too, must submit ourselves to the obedience of the Pope, whether we understand it or not.  If we truly believe the Holy Father is being misled, then we need to pray for him.  But we should not be on the Internet which is read around the world telling everyone that the Vicar of Christ is a heretic and of the devil.  When we do that, we are playing directly into the hands of the devil who wants to destroy the Church.

Remember what our Lord said as recorded in Matthew 12:36:
But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Pray for our Holy Father.  Don't judge him.


  1. Very well said.

  2. Amen, tired of the "My Mass is better than your Mass" crowd. To be Catholic is to be a Traditionalist, so I would use the term "Radical Traditionalists". And I am glad this blog brings up Fr. Z, who has helped create this nightmare, now many of his "followers" are rejecting this Pope and he has to do damage control....

  3. A little time after I became a Christian in 95, and once I got to know and became stronger in my faith, I reflected back on all the time i grew up as a catholic and classes and religious doctrine and deep concern with "the law" I came to the conclusion that the roman catholic Church ARE the Pharisees. I've never discussed it with anyone, I've never even read about it until I visited this site a couple minutes ago. I googled my search thought and by reading the initial info for each site im now not the ONLY one who thinks so. this is the 1st and probably the ONLY site I'll visit on this subject. you guys have your own bible ??
    what's up with that ?? the service is Always solemn and boring and the prayers are NOT from the heart and thoughts. they are from a book. there is NO one on one relationship with Jesus Christ - the songs are humdrum and NO celebration that he gave his life for us. no Joyous occasion to spread the Gospel and I could go on. this has been my thought for some time now and I'm GLAD someone showed me the way and I'm a Born again Christian and have been baptised of my own free will in the Holy Spirit. Christianity is not demonstrated through a recitation of facts it is to seek evidence of faith an acceptance of Gods Promise of a better world and we hold that man is justified by faith alone is what Paul said. Justified by faith alone Faith is the true... Shibboleth

    1. I'm afraid you have completely misunderstood my post and, far more tragically, you completely misunderstand Catholicism. I think I will try to do an entire post to answer your question, but for now, please be assured that although there are those within the Catholic Church who are "Pharisees", the true Catholic Church, founded by Jesus Christ, is the complete antipathy of the Pharisees. Even the Protestants agree that the Catholic Church was the Church founded by Jesus Christ, the Church to whom all the promises were given that the Holy Spirit would always remain with us, guiding the Church and keeping her from lies and deception.

      And please be assured, the Catholic Church does not believe that we are saved by our works but ONLY through the saving Blood of Jesus Christ. This is from Pope Francis' latest work, just published this week:

      "Paragraph 112:

      The salvation which God offers us is the work of his mercy. No human efforts, however good they may be, can enable us to merit so great a gift. God, by his sheer grace, draws us to himself and makes us one with him. He sends his Spirit into our hearts to make us his children, transforming us and enabling us to respond to his love by our lives. The Church is sent by Jesus Christ as the sacrament of the salvation offered by God. Through her evangelizing activity, she cooperates as an instrument of that divine grace which works unceasingly and inscrutably. Benedict XVI put it nicely at the beginning of the Synod’s reflections: “It is important always to know that the first word, the true initiative, the true activity comes from God and only by inserting ourselves into the divine initiative, only begging for this divine initiative, shall we too be able to become – with him and in him – evangelizers”. This principle of the primacy of grace must be a beacon which constantly illuminates our reflections on evangelization."

      Please watch my blog for a much more complete answer to your comment. Thank you for being here.

  4. I think you are confusing scandal and shock with rebelliousness. Jesus made the explicit point that he did not come to contradict the Torah but to fulfil it. In fact he perfectly obeyed all commandments.
    You think someone could stand on a streetcorner and say God is stupid and then if rebuked say "Shup up you pharasee, I'm just following Jesus and being against the "system"."
    The beautiful irony is that it was the pharasees and saducees especially who were being modernists and pushing their own innovations.


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